Please keep in view verses 7-8, 11-12 and 176 of Chapter 4 of the
Holy Qur’an which deal with Islamic law of inheritance.
The Islamic law of inheritance, as directly inferred from the Qur’an
and Hadith, is as under:-
1. It has been ordained by the Holy Qur’an, in its verse number 7
and 8 of chapter 4, that the male as well as the female heirs are
entitled to inherit the estate (according to their prescribed
shares) left by their deceased parents and near kindred. It has been
further enjoined upon the believers to bestow something on the
kinsfolk, orphans and the needy who are present at the time of
division of the heritage.
2. The verse number 11 of chapter 4 of the revealed book of Islam
prescribes the shares of the children (descendants) and parents
(ascendants) of the deceased. These shares are:
Share of the male child would be equal to the shares of two female
If there are two or more daughters but no son, the daughters would
inherit two-third of the estate.
If there is one daughter and no son, the daughter would get one half
of the heritage.
If the deceased has a son (i.e. child or children), his father and
mother (each) would have one-sixth of inheritance.
If the deceased have no son (i.e. child or children) and (only) his
parents are his heirs, then mother would get one third.
If the deceased has brethren (but no children) then his mother would
3. Verse No. 12 of chapter 4 of the Holy Book of Islam prescribes
shares of the husband and the wife. It also prescribes the shares of
the distant kindred in case the deceased has no children and parents
to survive him. These shares are mentioned as under:
If the wife dies and leaves no child, the husband would inherit one
half of her heritage.
If the wife dies and leaves a child or children, then the share of
the husband would be one fourth.
If the husband dies and leaves no child, the wife or the wives would
get one fourth of his estate.
If the husband dies and leaves a child or children, then the wife or
wives shall get one eighth of his heritage.
If the deceased leaves neither parents nor children to inherit him,
then his distant heirs shall inherit him.
If such a deceased is survived by a uterine brother or a uterine
sister, then each of them shall get one sixth in his or her
If such a deceased is survived by more than two brothers and sisters
on mother’s side, then they will be sharers in one third of his or
4. Verse No. 176 of chapter 4 deals with the division of inheritance
of a person who is not survived by any child. In that situation, the
distant kindred of the deceased would succeed him. The estate of
such a person shall be divided as under: -
If a man dies childless and has a sister, her’s is half the
If such a man has two sisters, then they would inherit two-thirds of
If such a man is survived by more brothers and sisters, then the
heritage shall be divided among all on the basis of the principle
that the share of one male would be equivalent of the shares of two
5. Verse No. 33 of chapter 4 declares that Allah has appointed heirs
of the estate of parents and near kindred. Those persons with whom
you have made a covenant are also entitled to their due. Verse No. 6
of chapter 33 of the Qur’an unequivocally pronounces that in the
matter of inheritance, owners of kinship are closer to one another
than the other believers, fugitives and friends, although one can do
some kindness to the latter.
6. The heritage of the deceased, which is to be divided among his
legal heirs, is what remains after the payment of his debt and the
legacy which he has bequeathed. However, the debt or the legacy
should not be injurious to the rights of the heirs. It means that
the deceased must not deliberately have contracted debt injuring the
rights of the heirs or he must not have made a will of more than one
third of his property or a will in favour of any legal heir without
the consent of his legal heirs or other legal heirs as the case may
7. The rules of inheritance as laid down by the Sunnah of Prophet
Muhammad (PBUH) are:
Pay the fixed shares of inheritance to the persons entitled to them.
What remains thereafter is for the nearest male person.
No Muslim inherits a non-Muslim nor a non-Muslim inherits from a
The murderer shall not inherit (from one who has been murdered by
An illegitimate child will neither inherit from his (illegitimate)
father, nor he will be inherited by him.
Wife of the slain would be entitled to get her prescribed share in
the blood-money of her husband.
When an infant child raises its voice, it will be treated as an
Will or Bequest
Kindly keep in view verses 180-182 of Chapter 2 of the Holy Qur’an
which deals with law of will.
The jurists have derived and developed the following rules of law
regarding will or bequest from the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
1. The Arabic terms used in connection with the law of will are ‘Wasiyyah’,
‘Musi’, ‘Musa’ lahu and ‘Wasi’. Wasiyyah means will or bequest, Musi
means the testator who makes the will, Musa lahu is the legatee in
whose favour the will is made, and Wasi stands for the executor who
is charged with the responsibility of executing the will. The
jurists have defined will as an endowment of property to a person
(legatee) which takes effect after the death of the testator (maker
of will). It may be made either verbally or in writing.
2. According to verses from 180 to 182 of chapter 2 of the Holy
Qur’an, it is obligatory on every Muslim to make a will. It is a
great sin that the executor or the hearers of will should change it.
But if a person fears that the testator has made some gross
injustice in the will and he makes some change or modification in
the will with a motive to make peace between the concerned parties,
then there is no sin for him.
3. Before the revelation of the verses regarding the division of
inheritance, it was prescribed that the will should be made in
favour of parents and the near relations. It was also required that
the will should be made regarding the wives that they should not be
expelled from the houses of their husbands and they should be
provided maintenance for a year after the death of their husbands.
4. At the time of making of the will, presence of two witnesses, who
are from tribe of the testator and are just men, is essential.
However, if the maker of will is away from home being on a journey
or in jihad and his death approaches he is allowed to make others as
witnesses. But if such witnesses are later on suspected to be liars,
then they can be replaced by another two witnesses who are more
truthful. (Al-Qur’an 5(106-108))
5. The Qur’an has not fixed any upper or lower limit upon the
quantity or amount of property which can be willed. However, Prophet
Muhammad (peace be upon him) prescribed that one should not make a
will for more than one-third of his property. But there is no
6. In view of the Sunnah of the Prophet, the Shariah has laid down
that none should make a will of more than one third of his property
so that the rights of his legal heirs may not be adversely affected.
It has been also laid down that will cannot be made in favour of an
heir to the exclusion of other heirs. Thus, will is generally made
in favour of strangers i.e. in favour of those who are not otherwise
entitled to inherit the property of the testator.
7. According to some jurists, will can be made in favour of an heir
if the other heirs of the testator consent. It can also be made for
more than one-third of property if all the heirs of the testator
give their consent. If there is no heir, the testator may bequeath
the whole of his property.
8. According to some jurists, will is no longer wajeb (essential)
but it is only Mustahib (laudable) after the revelation of the
verses regarding the division of inheritance. But will is
essentially required to be made regarding one’s debts, liabilities
9. According to Tradations, to make an unjust will which causes
injury (to the heirs or debtors) is a great sin. Even sixty years
obedience to and worship of Allah is wasted and one goes to Hell in
case one wrongs others by his will. Whoever cuts off the heritage of
his heirs, Allah will cut off his heritage of Paradise.
Please keep in view verses 4-5 of chapter 33 of the Holy Qur’an.
It means to adopt, to adopt a child. Adoption has been a practice in
almost all the societies in different forms in all ages which has
satisfied parental instinct of those married couples who had no
children or no sons of their own. This practice has also been
providing relief to those helpless children who are either orphans
or whose parents are very poor to bear the burden of their
up-bringing and education. Although there are some bad psychological
effects attached to adoption, yet on the whole this practice has
many social benefits. However, in the pre-Islamic Arabia, the
adopted children were called after the name of the adopted fathers
and they were entitled to inherit the estate left by their adopted
parents as if they were their real children. Moreover, the same
prohibited degrees of relationships (in respect of marriage) were
considered to exist between the adopted children and adopted parents
and between adopted children and their adopted brothers and sisters
which exist between the blood relations.
Understanding the social benefits of this practice, the Qur’an did
not abolish adoption altogether. But being a religion of nature,
Islam introduced the following reforms in this practice:
The adopted children should be called after the name of their real
parents (Al-Qur’an 33:4-5).
They are not legally like real children and so they will have no
share in inheritance. However, those who adopt them they may gift
them or bequest them some property.
In the matter of marriage there will be no prohibited degrees
between adopted relationships which exist between blood
Contract of Loan or
Kindly refer to verses 282-283 of Chapter 2 of the Holy Qur’an.
The Arabic word for contract is ‘Aqd’ which literally means
conjunction or tie. In the language of law it signifies conjunction
of elements of disposition i.e. proposal (ejab) by one party and
acceptance (Qabul) by the other. For validity of the contract, the
conditions are: the persons who enter into contract should be
legally competent; there should be free consent of the parties to
contract; consideration is an important factor in a contract, and
physical transfer of the thing involved from one party to the other
is essential. Evidence of two witnesses is also a basic requirement
of a valid contract.
Islamic law of contract has been laid down in detail by the Holy
Qur’an in its verse 282 and 283 of Chapter 2. Although the Holy
Qur’an mentions in these verses only those contracts which relate to
debt and exchange of merchandise, yet the law laid down in the said
verses is general in nature and embraces all lawful contracts
executed between the parties relating to various activities. The
main points of the law of contract in the light of the teachings of
the Qur’an and the Sunnah are:
When you contract a debt for a fixed term, record it in writing.
Let a scribe, whom Allah has taught how to write, record it in
writing with equity for the parties concerned. He should not refuse
Let the one who incurs the debt give dictation to the scribe for
writing down the documents. He should fear Allah and should neither
omit nor add anything to the terms which have been settled between
him and the creditor. While giving dictation to the scribe, he
should act fairly and honestly.
If the debtor is of low understating or is unable to give dictation
for any other reason, then his guardian shall honestly dictate the
terms which have been settled between the parties.
The documents of contract should be testified by two male witnesses
or by one man and two women. The witnesses should be from among you
i.e. they should be Muslims. They should be of good moral character,
reliable, steadfast and honest. When the witnesses are asked to
testify, they should not refuse.
Do not be averse to writing down the transaction whether it is big
Allah considers the writing down of transactions more just for you
because it facilitates the establishment of evidence on the one hand
and removes doubt between the parties on the other hand.
However, there is no harm if you do not put in writing your daily
commercial transactions where merchandise is transferred from hand
But have witnesses when you sell something to others.
The scribe and the witnesses should not be harassed. If you do so,
you shall be guilty of sin.
If you are on a journey and cannot find a scribe to write down the
deed of contract, then get loan or debt on the security or pledge in
hand (mortgage of something).
But if one does some business or gives some loan (without any pledge
in hand) merely on trust, then the one who is trusted should fulfil
his trust and fear Allah.
Never conceal evidence, because one who does so has a sinful heart.
Writing down of contracts of loan is so much important that the
Prophet of Islam is reported to have said that those who lend money
to others without any document or evidence are not helped by Allah
when they cry for help in case of non-recovery of such loan.
The Prophet (PBUH) has enjoined upon those who enter into some
agreement, pact, pledge or covenant that they should fulfil the
terms thereof. Those who donot fulfil their trusts or promises are
not reliable and have no religion.
The Prophet (PBUH) has forbidden the creditor to accept any gift or
any favour from the debtor after giving him loan as it would be
considered usury unless the practice of exchanging gifts or
accepting favours was prevalent between them previously.
The law regarding mortgage, pawn or pledge is enshrined in Verse No.
283 of chapter 2 of the Holy Qur’an and the Ahadith of Muhammad
(PBUH). A Muslim is permitted to get loan against a security or
pledge of any asset, property or articles of use. The creditor is,
however, strictly prohibited to make any profit out of mortgaged
property because it would be usury. But the mortgagee can drink the
milk of or ride on an animal which is in pledge if he incurs
expenses of its fodder.
Kindly refer to verses 35 and 59 of Chapter 4 of the Holy Qur’an.
The following rules of law have been made and elaborated by the
jurists about the nature, scope and procedure of arbitration and
also about the appointment, powers and qualifications of
1. The verse of the Holy Qur’an (4:35) recommends arbitration for
settling disputes between husband and wife. One arbiter is to be
appointed from the family or tribe of each spouse and the arbiters
are to be entrusted the function of making reconciliation between
the couple. If both the sides sincerely desire to set things right
and the arbiters sincerely work for resolving differences, Allah
will make reconciliation possible between the husband and the wife.
2. The second verse, the verse 59 of Surah 4, enjoins upon all the
followers of Islam in general to refer disputes concerning any
matter to Allah and Allah’s Messenger i.e. to the Qur’an and the
Sunnah. In other words, it has been recommended that mutual disputes
should be resolved in the light of the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
3. Besides arbitration in family disputes, the Islamic Law
encourages the concerned parties to refer their other disputes also
to arbitrators such as property claims, disputes pertaining to
business, contacts, partnership, etc. Such reference is called
‘Tahkim’ (arbitration) and a person to whom reference is made is
called ‘Hakam’ (arbiter or arbitrator).
4. Evidence is not lacking from the history of Islam when, besides
family or property disputes, even the political disputes of
paramount national importance were referred to arbitration. For
instance, dispute between Ali and Muawiyyah on the occasion of
Battle of Siffain was referred to the arbitrators namely, Abu Musa
Ashari appointed by Ali’s party and Amr bin al-As appointed by
5. Who should appoint the arbiters has been left to the discretion
of the parties to the dispute. Either the spouses or the parties
concerned themselves can appoint arbiters or the elders of their
families can do so. Where a dispute is brought to the court, even
the court can appoint arbitrators and refer the matter to them
before taking any action.
6. The qualifications for the arbitrators have not been prescribed
by the Qur’an and the Sunnah. However, the jurists recommend that an
arbitrator must possess the qualifications which are required of a
Qadi, for in fact he performs the same functions.
7. Opinions differ regarding the powers of the arbitrators. The
Hanafi and Shafi jurists hold that the arbitrators are not
authorised to enforce separation between the husband and the wife,
they are empowered to make reconciliation only. On the contrary, the
jurists belonging to some other schools of thought are of the
opinion that the arbiters have full powers of making reconciliation
or separation whichever they consider fit and proper in view of
their deliberations and the facts of the case referred to them. When
the dispute between Aqil bin Abu Talib and his wife Fatima bint
Utbah was brought before caliph Usman, the caliph appointed
arbitrators, one each from the families of the parties concerned,
and authorised them to make reconciliation or separation whichever
they considered proper. Thus the powers of the arbiters depend on
the terms of reference.
8. The arbitrator is empowered to hear the evidence and to
administer oaths just like a court. When the arbitrators have been
appointed by a court, they shall file their award in the court and
the court will issue its judgement in accordance with the award if
it is not inconsistent with the law.